Translation Notes

Direct Translation: A 150 Year Old Cake


Last week I attempted to translate an Italian legal document. Their hanging adjectives, which in many cases could have referred to either the mother or the daughter, its need to turn one word into twenty (Italian is beautiful, but NOT concise), and its excessive use of Latin phrases, left me with a headache and in need of a stiff drink.

When your head is aching from vague Italian, what a relief it is to then turn to that most unambiguous and methodological language with its never ending list of nouns.

In this translation the challenge was translating archaic measurements. Baking is a science. Exact measurements are required. However, in 1850, standardization had not yet happened which made it complicated to know exactly how to translate words such as “Loth.”


1. Loth – an archaic measurement varying between 14.6 and 17.6 grams
2. Loth h.- Loth hannover. After a lot of back and forth and a lot of argument that eventually melted into this on gchat. I decided to give up on trying to figure out what exactly Miss Davidis meant by Loth hannover while the Maltese expat vehemently argued that what we really needed to find out was what Loth meant. The answer is still not resolved… Any insight would be much appreciated

post note: I posted on a German cooking site and apparently according to the 2007 version of Davidis’ book, Schweizertorte asks for 180g Butter. So given this estimate Loth hannover is equivalent to 45 grams. Still don’t know what it looks like though…
3. eingemachte – preserved
4. Guss – glaze


73. Swiss cake

1/2 Pound Flour, 12 Loth (archaic measurement) (4 Loth hannover) Butter, 4 Loth ( 1 1/3 Loth hannover) sifted sugar and two eggs for the dough, preserved or fresh fruits, 6 egg whites, 1/2 pound grated almonds, 1/4 pound sifted sugar for the glaze.

The batter should be rolled out thinly and then spread to fit the cake tin and place a small springform cake ring around it. Then add preserved or fresh fruit over the batter, lastly, add enough sugar to sweeten it, grapes can also be added to that. In the meantime, mix the almonds, sugar, and egg whites for 15 minutes as hard as possible, cover the surface with fruits and bake the cake on low heat (the first degree on the oven) until it is baked through.


84. Cherry cake

A cream batter, 1 soup spoon full of sour pitted cherries, 1/2-3/4 pounds sugar, cinnamon, a few tablespoon crushed biscuits/rusks/Zwieback.

Spread half of the dough as the bottom layer, then drizzle with biscuits/rusks, mix the cherries with sugar and cinnamon, do not add the strained juice on the cake, make a lattice with the other half of the dough  and bake it at bake the cake on low heat (the first degree on the oven).

Cook the juice with a little sugar and when the cake is being brought to the table, using a teaspoon, add the juice to each slice

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1 Comment

  • Reply Rick June 19, 2015 at 11:30 am

    So what does it mean to bake it at 1 degree? Even in centigrade that would require putting ice on top of the cake….

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